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LittleRubgy (age 8 at the tiem of the trip) and I are off to Japan in September to watch some of the Rugby World Cup. I've been loosely planning this trip for a couple of years and am very excited to be headed to a part of the world I've never been.

I have the hotel and flights fully booked along with match tickets. I'm wondering: what is the best way to take spending funds overseas these days?

I recall when I was a kid my mum and dad would do a bunch of travelers cheques, and when I used to travel 15-20 years ago I would just buy some currency prior to departure from a local bank. What I have found recently is that my local banks here in Minnesota generally don't sell foreign currencies anymore. Should I just use my credit card and let them know I'm going overseas? Is there a better method these days? Using the exchange bureaus at airports always struck me as rather expensive.

-canam
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I have the hotel and flights fully booked along with match tickets. I'm wondering: what is the best way to take spending funds overseas these days?

ATM in your destination country.
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We did currency exchange in Tokyo. It was fine. Didn't really need that much cash because they do take VISA there. :-)
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Should I just use my credit card and let them know I'm going overseas?

yes, at a world-sporting-event, the ability to use credit cards will be abundant,
no one (vendors/stores) will want to miss an opportunity to receive your $$.

have a little cash-on-hand (use an ATM) - but not much, like a couple hundred...


peace & rugby
t
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Take an ATM/Debit card and a couple of credit cards (one as a backup in case you have a problem with the other one). It is important to try to select cards which don't charge a foreign transaction fee (if you don't have a local source, Capital One issues them on-line without an annual fee. The cards should have chips and four digit PIN's (on credit card, it's optional, but have one assigned if your bank allows it).

Your ATM card should work in most major bank;s machines there, but if you have issues, every 7-Eleven has an ATM which takes US bank cards.

Contrary to what you might think, US dollars are not much use over there.

Tipping is simply not practiced in Japan under any circumstance. The main train station in major cities is full of reasonably priced restaurants of all imaginable types.

Jeff
(Author of "Take the High Road - A Primer for the Independent Traveler")
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The cards should have chips and four digit PIN's (on credit card, it's optional, but have one assigned if your bank allows it).

Which banks issue chip and pin credit cards?

This is something that I need to deal with before out next international trip. The BofA card we have is chip and signature.
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Which banks issue chip and pin credit cards?

This is something that I need to deal with before out next international trip. The BofA card we have is chip and signature.


There still aren't very many chip and pin credit cards in the US. However, I've traveled quite a bit through Europe and Australia over the last five years, and can I recall one only time when the regular chip and sign didn't work. Sometimes you do need to tell them you need to sign, however.
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There are very few who issue chip/pin cards. If you're a vet you can sign up with USAA. Their cards are chip/pin. I believe there is a credit union that has fairly liberal standards for "membership", and once a member you can get one of their cards (I forget which one it is...as I recall it was in the northeast somewhere).

I have the USAA card. Worked great. We Americans are so far behind it's a joke. When I use that card here (USA) it still spits out a piece of thermal paper for me to sign (as if the waitress is a handwriting analyst?). Overseas, they give me the unit, I input my PIN, and it's done. Couldn't be easier, and is vastly more secure than signing some silly bit of paper.
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I think HSBC also allow a PIN assignment on their credit cards. Cashiers will still ask for a signature rather than the PIN, but sometimes transit card vending machines will demand them (for the Venice "People Mover" shuttle, for example) and not accept any cards without entering a PIN. Keep to a four digit PIN (some cards will allow you to use up to a six digit, but many vending machines will only allow four digits). While some countries have greater flexibility, four digit has so far been the default which always works.

Jeff
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